Blaze Pizza Opens in Uptown, With Consciously Sourced Ingredients Supporting Their Pizza Concept
Last week I was invited to attend an event at the new Blaze Pizza on Central, where Executive Chef Brad Kent had flown in from Los Angeles to share his enthusiasm for what makes this pizza so good.
Enthusiasm is an understatement! Chef Brad loves, loves, loves his job! And it was clear, he wanted us to understand why his careful attention to ingredients and their origins was so important to him. Here, he had all of us learning how to taste olive oil. (Did you know, a good olive oil will burn the back of your throat as you pull it over your tongue?)
You know that saying, “Do What You Love?” Whoever made that up surely did so after spending time with Chef Brad. He really, really, REALLY loves his work. As part of his commitment to quality, he takes the time to travel to each of his company’s vendors to observe and vet their production. In the process, he has learned a whole lot about where olive oil, cheese, wheat, etc. come from. And he wants you, his customer, to know it as well! I think if he’d been allowed to be with us all day, he would have. It’s clearly really important to him that we know where our food comes from, and why we should care about that.
I eventually went through the line and built on the Art Lover’s choice, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Afterward, I went back and had the kitchen warm up one of the smores at the pizza oven for a little post-pizza treat.
But I was curious about where Chef Brad’s contagious enthusiasm came from. So after I savored his pizza, I sought him out for more conversation. It turned out, he’d studied nutrition side by side colleagues of my own. In addition to the traditional culinary arts training his chef colleagues might have, he holds a bachelor’s degree in food science from Cal State Long Beach.
Kent is also a Certified Research Chef who once worked at Natick Labs, developing MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) for our military in the field. He had also spent time developing refrigerated products for Trader Joe’s (ahhhh….could this be why Trader Joe’s to this day uses so much olive and canola oil in its packaged foods? Hmmmm…) He has also developed sports nutrition formulations.
Bottom line, Chef Brad has solid feet in both the left (menu design) and right (food science/technology) brain areas of the restaurant business. What a gem for the sports related investors in this enterprise, to have a chef who knows exactly what their target market is going to want and expect? Who knows that ricotta is whey protein and how to package it (inside meatballs) so that athletes will love it? Who knows the foods athletes are taught to seek out to fight inflammation?
As a sports nutritionist who spends a lot of time teaching athletes how to special order in restaurants, it is so refreshing to learn that there is a place out there serving pizza (which they love), made to enhance performance (which I love)…which makes all of us happy! I’ve already spread the word, and I am really excited that there is a place with such attention to every detail from the ingredient chosen, to where it comes from, to how it tastes, to how it is prepared. And, which doesn’t have to hard sell all of those qualities, because the food is so delicious that people come because they like it.
Here’s to good success for Blaze Pizza, and that the example they set is inspiring to others who wish to succeed in the niche that targets the health minded.